Key West’s Southernmost Point marker, one of the Florida Keys’ most recognized icons, was draped in a royal purple sash and backdropped by a British flag Friday in tribute to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, who died Sept. 8 at age 96 after 70 years on the throne.
“The queen is such an important icon in the world, and she’s such a strong woman and incredible leader, that we are here to pay homage to her,” said Key West Mayor Teri Johnston. “We join the world today in mourning the loss of such an incredible human being.”
Some 30 years ago, the British monarch stopped in the Keys during a voyage on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
“We do have a connection with the queen; we were very honored in 1991 to have her visit us in the Florida Keys, so this is a very fitting monument,” Johnston said.
The Queen and Prince Philip arrived at Dry Tortugas National Park and Fort Jefferson, 70 miles west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico, via tender from the Britannia. Then-Florida Keys Mayor Wilhelmina Harvey welcomed them with the gift of a conch shell, the best-known symbol of the island chain.
The red, yellow, black and white Southernmost Point marker, a 20-ton concrete monument that resembles a giant marine navigational buoy, was installed beside the Atlantic Ocean in 1983 and designates the southernmost point of land in the continental United States. It is a favorite photo stop for visitors to the island city.
Plans call for the tribute, installed by the city’s community services department, to stay in place through Her Majesty’s funeral Monday, Sept. 19.